Loneliness in Men 60 Years and Over: The Association With Purpose in Life

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Journal Article
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Loneliness as a consequence of getting older negatively impacts on the health and well-being of men as they age. Having a purpose in life may mitigate loneliness and therefore positively impact on health and well-being. Limited research into loneliness and purpose in life has been undertaken in older men. This study seeks to understand the relationship between loneliness and purpose in life in a group of older men. Using data from a cross-sectional survey of 614 men aged 60 years and over living in New Zealand, bivariate and multivariate analyses were undertaken to examine the relationship between loneliness and purpose in life using a range of demographic, health, and social connection variables. Bivariate analysis revealed that being unpartnered and having low socioeconomic status, limited social networks, low levels of participation, and mental health issues were associated with loneliness. Multivariate analysis showed that having poor mental health and lower purpose in life were indicators of loneliness. Consequently, improving mental health and purpose in life are likely to reduce loneliness in at-risk older men. As older men are a heterogeneous group from a variety of sociocultural and ethnic backgrounds, a multidimensional approach to any intervention initiatives needs to occur.

Loneliness; Purpose in life; Older men; Gerontology
American Journal of Men’s Health, 12(4), 730–739.
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